Thu, Mar

Straw-Hating Garcetti Ignores Arson, HazMat, and BioHazards


@THE GUSS REPORT-The streets of Los Angeles are worse than ever thanks to our Peter Pan-like Mayor Eric Garcetti, a recipient of a public paycheck for 20 years and counting.

He and his pals on LA City Council create ridiculous bans on things that don’t pose a substantial risk while ignoring things that put all of us in immediate and severe danger. 

A few years ago, they climbed their soapbox to announce a boycott of Arizona because of our neighboring state’s stance on illegal immigration. But it was a load of hooey since they resumed business with Arizona as soon as the boycott became, well, inconvenient. 

And virtually nobody in the local news media called them out on it. 

Then there was LA’s ban on plastic supermarket bags which now are now free, thicker, and more indestructible than ever. And LA’s environmental vacuousness award goes to Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, a Garcetti disciple who, minutes after passing a ban on plastic straws, was photographed by this column using a straw stirrer for his coffee. (Sidebar: the O in his surname is as manufactured as a plastic straw as is the name Villaraigosa for that matter.) 

What we don’t see is our politicians protecting the public in ways we desperately need. 

A few days ago, this column had the early morning misfortune of driving down Ventura Boulevard at one of its nicer shopping areas – where plenty of Starbucks are open early and welcome the homeless – and saw a buck-naked homeless man blasting projectile diarrhea across the sidewalk and into the street. 

David Ryu, the Councilmember who represents this portion Sherman Oaks and regularly cites his experience in community health matters, refuses to say when he will have the sidewalk and gutter power-washed and disinfected. In the week which has since passed, Ryu – who faces a runoff for his job with newcomer Nithya Raman – negligently allowed thousands of people to trek through the fantastic fecal fiasco and track it into nearby stores and cafes as well as their cars and homes. 

But straws are the danger, right? 

Just when you think it can’t get worse, there was a different but equally dangerous scene about a mile north in Van Nuys, when this column came across hundreds of butane cans torched on a sidewalk.  

I called 911 and, while the LAFD showed up within minutes, its lead responder declared that “the cans are all empty,” without touching or lifting any of them. But I did. And dozens of the cans were in fact full. 

The LAFD refused to launch an arson investigation, but arson it was, as evidenced by the severe burn mark on the sidewalk underneath the pile as confirmed for this column by firefighting insiders who observed the photos.   The LAFD then left the hazardous material out in the 99-degree heat for another 24 hours, piled in plastic Hazmat bags with yellow caution tape. 

Big Red Flashing Question: Why won’t the LAFD say why this pile of hazmat was dangerous enough to warrant hazmat bags with warning labels and yellow caution tape but wasn’t dangerous enough to remove immediately? 

LAFD insiders said that the hazmat should have been immediately removed. 

In fact, those cans and boxes had serial numbers and the LAFD could have used them to locate the retailer or wholesaler from which they came and could have led to whoever torched and attempted to make them explode on the bustling street. 

The LAFD not investigating this matter – which this column subsequently referred to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – gives a free pass to the anarchy- and terror-minded.  

The LAFD says it should be investigated as trash-dumping rather than as arson but can’t explain away the charred sidewalk. 

It all leads me to wonder whether Garcetti envies chaos havens like Portland, Seattle, Chicago, and New York. Is he in any way different from their recall-facing, chaos-embracing mayors Ted Wheeler, Jenny Durkan, Lori Lightfoot, and Bill DeBlasio?


(Daniel Guss, MBA, was nominated for a 2020 Los Angeles Press Club journalism award for Best Political Commentary, and has contributed to CityWatch, KFI AM-640, iHeartMedia, 790-KABC, Cumulus Media, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Star News, Los Angeles Downtown News, and the Los Angeles Times in its Sports, Opinion and Entertainment sections and Sunday Magazine, among other publishers. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.